Festival bows new initiatives and high-tech innovations

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The Pusan festival this year will be remembered for an ending that is bringing about a new beginning for the glossy beachside event.

The retirement of director Kim Dong-ho will be commemorated with a special photo exhibit of his career before the festival looks ahead to a new era.

Pusan’s new Festival Center bows in 2011, but this year there are more seminars and conferences aimed at opening up additional networking opportunities among the Asian film festival community and film biz. A new lecture series, “Cinema Talk Beyond Cinema,” debuts in which directors and film critics provide a backstory for a film’s history. Scheduled to kick off the series are Tony Rayns with “The Secret History of Chinese Cinema” and Amir Naderi on “The Transmission of Black and White to Color in the World Cinema.”

Pusan has also launched a smartphone application to book tickets.

This year’s fest screens a total of 308 films from 67 countries, including 103 world premieres, which is a little scaled back compared to previous years. Juliette Binoche, Oliver Stone and Carlos Saura head to Pusan for the first time. Special programs include retrospectives on Kurdish cinema, Spanish films from the Franco regime and contemporary Czech film.

The Asian Film Market, the Pusan Promotion Plan co-prod market, the Asian Cinema Fund (ACF) and Asia Film Academy will also unfold during the fest.

“We tried to absorb ACF into PPP by selecting several recipients of ACF’s script development fund as this year’s PPP projects,” says Nam Dong-chul, the head of Asian Film Market.

The market’s big innovation this year is an online screening system. Through the screening website (os.asianfilmmarket.org), producers, buyers and others can screen previous works from Pusan Promotion Plan directors, as well as 20 market films.

New this year as well is a joint sales office for small Korean distribs, and the European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs will officially kick off “EAVE Ties That Bind,” a producers workshop that began as a pilot program at the Udine Far East Film Festival and mini program at 2009′s Pusan. Program explores all aspects of the filmmaking process, including legal, financing, sales, distribution and exhibition in Europe and Asia, as well as creating informational co-financing and co-production relationships.

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